Topic We Cover: Why Do Girls Choose MBBS and Boys go for B Tech
1. Boys Choose B. Tech. Girls Choose MBBS – What do the Numbers Says?
2. The STEM Field Example
3. Perception of STEM
4. Social Fabric of Society
5. The Role Model Problem
6. The Biological Conundrum
7. Why Do Boys Prefer B. Tech Over MBBS?
8. Why is it Important to Know these Reasons?
There have been many wise men and women that have warned us about looking too much into generalization. Often, generalizations can be overrated. Despite their slightly opaque nature, generalizations can offer us some measure of reality.
It doesn’t take a great statistician to know that there is disproportionality when it comes to gender distribution in both B. Tech and MBBS Programs.
This is the type of observation one can normally make even without knowing any study in the field. Walk into a coaching centre training for JEE Main exams and you’d likely find more boys than girls. The opposite is true for coaching centres offering NEET Exam training.
In this article, we try to answer this question using scientific arguments and not mere observational theories.
Boys Choose B. Tech. Girls Choose MBBS – What do the Numbers Says?
Before delving into the reasons behind the phenomenon, let’s get the numbers straight to remove any room for doubt.
In the All India Higher Education Survey (AIHES) conducted in 2017-18, only 29% students who enrolled for B. Tech Programs were female. This is a great disparity considering some of India’s top institutions have made serious efforts to make B. Tech seem more attractive to female aspirants.STEM Fields
Does this shunning of B. Tech carry forward to other science courses like B. Sc?
The same survey showed that 49% B. Sc Students are female. In other words, gender distribution in B. Sc is much more stable than stable than B. Tech.
In MBBS, the water flows in the other direction. Generally, 60 out of hundred MBBS Students are female. While the value of the disparity between men and women in lower in MBBS than B. Tech, it is still large enough to take notice?
So the numbers confirm what we already suspected. There is a genuine phenomenon in which boys overwhelmingly choose B. Tech while girls Choose MBBS.
Our aim in this article is to try and find the reasons behind these trends.
The STEM Field Example
Tech Programs having a low number of female enrollments does not seem very surprising when one looks at the broader gender distribution in STEM fields. For years, there has been an acknowledgement over the fact that STEM fields do not have an equitable gender distribution.
Courses like B. Tech are the fountainhead of STEM fields. Most professionals in STEM fields did complete an engineering degree at some point in their education. To have a long lasting career in STEM fields, starting with a B. Tech Course is largely the norm.
Our motive is not to simply study the number though. We have to figure out why STEM fields do not have as many women as men. By getting the answer to this problem, we would be able to decipher why female enrollments in B. Tech Programs is very low.
Moving forward, we will discuss some of the reasons have a skewed gender distribution.
Perception of STEM
Perception plays a large role in shaping the culture and traditions prevalent in society. We make everyday decisions based upon how they would be perceived by a Certain Group of People, whether it’s family, friends, colleagues, or even the general public.
Think about it. Do you speak as freely while travelling in a public bus as you do when you’re at home with family? The division on public and private is largely based on perception. You perceive public spaces as outdoors and alien which is why you are less likely to speak your mind there.
In the same line of thought, we can look at the Perception of STEM fields in the general public, and more importantly, amongst female students and professionals who have the option of either studying or joining STEM fields.
STEM fields are overwhelmingly viewed as masculine. When one thinks of a STEM field like Mechanical Engineering or front end development, one is likely to think of a male professional working in both such fields. These perceptions develop and took root as people get used to seeing male professionals Working in STEM fields for a long time.
Due to this perception of STEM fields being inherently masculine, we see many female aspirants with a great aptitude for a career in the STEM fields not taking that option. Anyone working in STEM Fields would know what a great loss even one capable professional not joining the field is.
How can this perception be changed?
From Various Analytical Studies, we know that there is no truth is the perception that STEM fields are masculine. Some of the pioneers of STEM fields have been female, so there is no truth to this widely held belief and perception.
This simple fact has to be repeated again and again until female aspirants and professionals voluntarily choose STEM fields for education and Career-Based Opportunities.
We have already seen some of India’s Best STEM Colleges and universities making serious efforts to make their programs and courses more attractive to female aspirants. There is a serious push towards balancing the gender distribution in STEM fields. When the IT revolution came to India, we saw a sudden rise in female engineers. This is because IT came without the perception baggage that other STEM fields like mechanical and Civil Engineering have.
As new fields emerge within STEM, various stakeholders have to make sure that no false perceptions around these new fields develop. This will ensure that female aspirants remain open to choosing these fields and don’t leave them out some trivial perception-based reason.
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Social Fabric of Society
STEM fields are generally alluring to students and professionals who have a problem-solving nature and are ready to take on lofty challenges.
Not many other fields of work have as dynamic a nature as STEM-related fields. To start a career or study in STEM fields and subjects, the professional or student has to be ready to take on challenges and have a growth mindset.
In a society where gender is a divisive issue, this can be a problem.
Countries like Sweden and Norway where there is more equality between the genders, one sees a more equitable gender distribution in STEM fields. The reason more women in such countries choose STEM courses like engineering is because the social fabric of the society allows them to take on bigger challenges.
In countries where gender discrimination is a huge problem, women already face a big challenge of gaining equal status in society. This creates a situation where choosing STEM fields for education and Career Opportunities is an additional challenge along with general gender discrimination.
Various studies have shown that up until middle school, female students show as much interest in STEM topics as male students. In fact, in many studies, female students outperform male counterparts in mathematics assessment tests. However, by the time of high school education, the interest of female students in STEM fields drops (especially in countries with poor record of gender discrimination).
Thus, the assertion that STEM fields are simply more attuned to male students is not true. However, the state of society’s record in gender-related issues and policy can play a dramatic role in bring more women to STEM fields.
To get over this problem, a greater push towards gender equality in all spheres of society allows women to think about taking up greater challenges in STEM fields which are challenging in their very nature.
The Role Model Problem
Why do boys Choose B. Tech more often?
Let’s view this question is isolation for a moment. Boys choose STEM courses like B. Tech more often because they see friends, peers, and other older men who started their career in STEM fields. It is in human nature to follow a well-trodden path if it promises stability and meaning.
In other words, boys have many role models to look up to when making the decision to join a program like B. Tech. This helps making the decision to take up B. Tech much simpler. Think about it. You are more likely to do something if others like you have done it before.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for girls.
It is not as if girls don’t have role models to look up to in the STEM fields. Women have built Successful careers in STEM fields and many of them serve as role models. However, girls about to make a decision to choose a field of study for higher education have access to fewer immediate female role models compared to boys.
This situation is a key reason why many girls end up choosing fields which have a higher ratio of females such as medicine, law, healthcare, and so on. These are fields where girls feel more comfortable to start a career in. Notice that none of these fields make up the STEM superstructure.
For reasons mentioned above, the number of Women in STEM fieldsa is significantly low. This naturally allows a situation to develop where there are less female role models for girls to look up to.
How can this type of situation be averted?
The change can only come if the STEM establishment takes steps to make their fields of work and study more lucrative. Companies in STEM fields and educational institutions offering programs like B. Tech have to create an environment where female professionals and students can grow.
Only by bringing a change to the status quo can there be real change and an arrival of role models young girls can look up to and confidently choose STEM Fields for Education.
The Biological Conundrum
There is an alternative point of view to why there are less women working and Studying in STEM fields. While systemic gender discrimination practices have kept women away from STEM fields, many believe that this is a marginal problem compared to a larger fundamental.
Compared to men, women are less attuned to work in STEM-related fields. This difference in scientific aptitude exists because of biological differences between men and women. These differences in the physical and mental makeup of men and women plays a key role in their being a skewed gender distribution in STEM courses like B. Tech.
The biological outlook to understanding career and educational choices can be extended to understanding gender distribution in other fields. For instance, in education and healthcare, Female Professionals outnumber their male counterparts several times over. This is because in these sectors, the physical and emotional capabilities of female professionals is resonant with the demands of the job.
This debate between biology and society has been very controversial in the general mainstream. Many attribute people who take a biological view on gender distribution in STEM Fields as sexist.
Finding flaws in the biological outlook is perfectly fine, but name-calling and labelling is wrong and should be avoided.
For instance, for all the merits of viewing skewed gender distribution as a biological phenomenon, there is really not a large gap in aptitude and performance between men and women to really justify such a large gap.
In other words, while the biological variance between men and women plays a role, the absolute value of this variance is too small to really make a big difference.
Thus, while biological differences exist, they alone cannot be the sole reason why there is a skewed gender distribution in STEM Fields.
Why Do Boys Prefer B. Tech Over MBBS?
We have talked about how there is a disparity in the number of men and women in STEM fields. However, it is also wise to analyse why there are more women in healthcare compared to men. After all, it is wrong to analyse a skewed distribution in one sector and not do so in another.
Why don’t more boys enroll for MBBS Programs?
The reasons for this phenomenon is eerily similar to why there aren’t more women in STEM Fields.
For one, boys don’t have as many role models as doctors as they have as engineers. A boy is more likely to meet and talk to an engineer than a doctor. Furthermore, the healthcare sector itself becomes a less appealing option to boys because of the time it takes to complete education.
Men are expected to become breadwinners at a far early age compared to women. For many men, the prospect of studying over ten years to become a doctor is too long a time period, especially if they have to start earning by the time they turn 24.
By doing a B. Tech Program, boys open themselves up to have an opportunity to start earning by the time to turn 22 or 23. They also have the option for working for a few years before studying again for a higher degree. For doctors however, taking a gap year to work is slightly unconventional.
Compared to men, women don’t have the pressure to become immediate breadwinners (on a broader spectrum). Thus, they can take their time and study for several years. MBBS Programs thus become an obvious option for them.
There are other reasons why more Women choose MBBS compared to men. When it comes to medicine and healthcare, a nurturing outlook is needed instead of a technocratic one common in STEM fields. Certain biological differences between men and women make sure that the latter are more suited for positions in healthcare.
When it comes to studying the gender distribution in MBBS, 60 out of 100 students are women. This gap, although significant, is lower when compared to the gap in STEM fields which works against women.
Why is it Important to Know these Reasons?
Only by knowing that a problem exists can someone solve it.
As a society, we have two options. We can dismiss these studies and trends as facts of life and accept their consequences meekly. Or, we can work towards making sure these trends and gaps close down and we have a more equitable society.
To move forward, we first need to accept that a problem exists. If there is an acceptance of the problem and a genuine analysis of why the problem exists, we can then take steps to make these problems die down and collapse.
In this article, we took a deep dive into why there is a skewed gender distribution in B. Tech and MBBS Programs. We reflected on some reasons why these gaps exist and the steps that can be taken to remove these gaps.